January 16, 2017
Sydnee Mason sat on the floor in a walk-in closet at her grandma's house in Chariton, Iowa. Actually, her grandma told her to stay in the closet. "I was struggling to focus on finishing up a speech, and Grandma would not let me out until that happened," Sydnee says, with a chuckle in her voice.
Her grandma's tactics worked. The speech was for the Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador competition. It was just a portion of the competition, but after the interviews and speeches were complete, Mason was a 2017 Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador. Tony Morgan of Lamar joins her this year.
The Missouri Farm Bureau Ambassador program selects one male and one female student, 17 to 22 years of age, to represent agriculture and Farm Bureau for one year. Each ambassador receives a $1,250 educational scholarship.
As ambassadors, Mason and Morgan will make selected appearances throughout 2017, promoting agriculture on behalf of Missouri Farm Bureau. They will assist with Farm Bureau events at the Missouri State Fair and elsewhere. A panel of judges selected the two from a field of 18 contestants selected by county Farm Bureaus.
Mason does not come from a deep heritage in agriculture. "I was not a 4-H kid and did not have an interest in FFA," she says.
She grew up near Marshall and attended a small Catholic grade school; there were just eight kids in her eighth-grade graduating class. During that time, basketball was her passion. She competed with traveling basketball teams all the way through middle school. "It was my love," she says, "my focus." But then came high school, and it was time to sign up for classes at Marshall.
Her dad, Ken Mason, is part of the agribusiness industry. As a young man growing up in Tennessee, he was active in FFA. "He was really pushing FFA for me in high school," Mason recalls. "I was resisting. I did not know when I would have time for it or how it would line up in my schedule." But then her dad did something that changed her life goals completely. "He snuck an agriculture education class into my first-semester schedule."
From that semester on, Mason has not looked back. She is not ashamed to say she gave up basketball for the FFA. "I love advocating for agriculture. I am grateful to my dad for sneaking that in and helping me to pursue FFA. He was right," she says.
Mason is currently a senior at Marshall High School, where she is very involved in FFA. Mason was the 2016 FFA Teach Ag speech winner; she also presented Models of Excellence awards at the National FFA Convention for three years, and placed third in the state FFA speaking contest in 2014.
Mason plans to attend the University of Missouri and major in agricultural education, with an emphasis in leadership, and a minor in agricultural economics. "My career plan is to use experiences like the MFB Ambassador program and others, along with the knowledge I gain, to teach consumers and help them to have an understanding and appreciation for agriculture, food production and farm families."
Check back in March as Show-Me Youth spotlights Mason's fellow MFB Ambassador, Tony Morgan.
About the Author(s)
Editor, Missouri Ruralist
Mindy resides on a small farm just outside of Holstein, Mo, about 80 miles southwest of St. Louis.
After graduating from the University of Missouri-Columbia with a bachelor’s degree in agricultural journalism, she worked briefly at a public relations firm in Kansas City. Her husband’s career led the couple north to Minnesota.
There, she reported on large-scale production of corn, soybeans, sugar beets, and dairy, as well as, biofuels for The Land. After 10 years, the couple returned to Missouri and she began covering agriculture in the Show-Me State.
“In all my 15 years of writing about agriculture, I have found some of the most progressive thinkers are farmers,” she says. “They are constantly searching for ways to do more with less, improve their land and leave their legacy to the next generation.”
Mindy and her husband, Stacy, together with their daughters, Elisa and Cassidy, operate Showtime Farms in southern Warren County. The family spends a great deal of time caring for and showing Dorset, Oxford and crossbred sheep.
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